When someone asks you about your marriage or relationship, how do you reply?
When they say, “So, how are things at home?”, or “How are things with you and your girlfriend?”
You say … what?
Maybe you say something like, “It’s fine. We’re doing great.”
Turns out, that’s often a statement that’s pretty far from the truth.
Together with my wife, I lead live trainings for couples and singles. Some men who attend are married, some are in long-term relationships, and some are single.
Before every training, we send a pre-training questionnaire to everyone. That means, both the man and his partner gets the questionnaire and they each get to rate how they’re doing on communication, sex, working as a team, spending quality time together, and so forth.
One of the last questions in the questionnaire says, “If you don’t find a solution to your situation, what will your relationship future look like?”
Hundreds and hundreds of men have come through this training, and time and time again, I’ll see a man state that his relationship is “fine” or “ok”, while his wife or partner say she’s an inch away from divorcing him!
So it’s a common thing that a man thinks his relationship is fine, whereas the reality is his relationship is in deep shit and could be over before he knows it.
As one of my, now divorced, friends said after his wife had moved out and found a new man, “I knew we had some trouble – I just figured we’d get to it some day!”
What is up with that?
Are men just oblivious, keeping their heads in the sand? (Or are women making too big of deal of small problems, yelling “fire” when it’s not really that bad?)
Based on my experience with hundreds of men, both in group settings and private coaching, here’s what’s going in the background:
- Men operate on an “Emergency Principle”. That means we don’t take action until there’s a REALLY good reason, if not a flat-out emergency. In the domain of intimate relationships, women are much more likely to take preventive action as soon as they smell a whiff of smoke, whereas men are more likely to do nothing until they house in engulfed in flames. One man who came to our training after his separation said, “I knew my wife had been talking about us having problems and we should get help, but I didn’t really take it seriously. Until the day she said, “You’re moving out – TODAY!” (She was dead serious. He moved out. And by doing some really good work in our trainings, they actually found their way back together, but not all stories have such nice endings).
- Men have a deep, intense fear of failing. Men tend to take a failing marriage or relationship as a statement of their personal failings as a man. As in, “I AM a failure!” That really hurts, and men go to great lengths not to be confronted with that feeling. Ironically, by not wanting to admit that we have relationship problems, so that we won’t have to face the prospect of failing, we end up contributing to just that: Failure.
- Men primarily focus on other things than relationship. It’s been shown in lots of different ways that women generally put relationship as their first priority in life, whereas for men, relationship comes in as a number 4 or 5 on the priority list, behind work, career, money, and providing for the family. That means we have a natural tendency to leave the “business of relationship” to our partners – that is, until a squeaky wheel begins to make noise. Men tend to apply their best focus and be mostly in their “zone” at work or in sports. Many men find it really difficult to apply that kind of pointed focus and excellence in relationship, partly because intimate relationship is a much more fuzzy discipline than work or sport which have clear and defined objectives.
These are some of the main reasons why men are often totally surprised when their partners, seemingly out of the blue, blow up or want to leave.
There’s a judgment men often hear from their partners when things aren’t going well: “You don’t care about our relationship”.
In my experience, that is not the case. We care, and we feel deep pain, shame, and fear when things go sideways and our partners are visibly unhappy.
At the same time, we often make it easy for our partners to think we don’t care, mostly through our lack of pointed focus on our relationship and sometimes lack of skill in the intimacy department.
So what’s a man to do?
A few places to start that other men have found effective:
- First and foremost, pay closer attention to how you feel and how your partner feels. If you don’t know how your partner feels, ask her. I know, many men have an awkward relationship to feelings, but it’s the #1 thing to get your head around. If you take your own and your partner’s feelings a bit more seriously, you won’t be caught off-guard, because you’ll have felt the warning bells.
- Think of your intimate relationship more like a sport, or even like a business. In those areas, you want to bring your best performance, and you want to learn new skills. Plus, you don’t ever forget to go to work, or just neglect to show up to a client meeting, right? You do those tasks because they need to be done, and because it’s the right thing to do. How would you show up in your relationship if you treated it like your business?
- Figure out what makes your woman happy, and do more of those things. Many men will protest and say, “But I love her. I bust my ass for her, I do X-Y-Z”. That’s great. And what you’re offering is probably not what she needs. That’s not to minimize all your hard work. It’s just a common situation that men don’t know how to satisfy their woman. How you know if you have that handled is if your woman is happy and loving on you, touching you, smiling at you, and telling her friends what a great guy you are. If she’s not, do something differently. Get the free e-book from my website for starters, 7 Secrets To Satisfy Your Woman.
A man at my training told me recently, “I always thought if I got my finances sorted out, and I put a lot of energy into my workout, my hobbies, and my own personal growth, then my relationship would work out. But it hasn’t worked that way. This weekend, I realized that if I devote my energy to making my relationship great, then everything else falls into order”.
That is my experience too. When love works, everything else works, too.
Christian Pedersen Bio.
Christian Pedersen is a relationship specialist, Certified Life Coach, and founder of Power and Heart Coaching for men. He’s author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller, When You Love Your Woman.
Together with his wife, Sonika, he’s the co-founder of LoveWorks at LoveWorksforYou.com. Christian and Sonika produce and lead mind-altering live trainings like Give Yourself to Love and The Masculine-Feminine Energy Dance. They offer potent inspiration and better relationship strategies to men and women, singles and couples, on love, relationship, communication, intimacy, sex, dating, and personal transformation.
Christian particularly enjoys coaching men on how to embody both the masculine power and heart with their women and how to get everything they ever dreamed of with her. Find Christian’s men’s coaching at www.powerandheartcoaching.com, and his and Sonika’s relationship work at www.loveworksforyou.com.